LAKELAND, Tenn. — Get ready for traffic slowdowns in the area of Interstate 40 and the Canada Road exit.
That’s because the highly anticipated upgrade to the heavily traveled interchange is finally getting started.
The project is designed to make entering and exiting I-40 smoother for the thousands of drivers who use the use the interchange daily.
While most are glad the construction is beginning, they also realize they could be in for some real traffic snarls.
“In the end it’ll be great. That’s what I’m hoping for,” said Ruby Lipford.
With just a touch of sarcasm, Lipford, a Lakeland resident prepared for the traffic headaches to come.
It could take two and a half years to remake the four lane the bridge over I-40.
The $28 million project will improve ramps, add retaining walls, re-position stop lights and give the interchange a more fluid traffic flow.
“Well, I’m glad it’s getting ready to start, but I’m also sad. I’m sad because I know it’s going to be backed-up traffic and a mess for a while,” said Lipford.
The project will require TDOT to close one westbound lane of traffic on I-40 at the Canada Road exit from 9 pm Tuesday to 6 am Wednesday.
Tuesday morning, construction equipment lined Canada Road, which will be partially widened to accommodate the new four lane bridge.
That means, at some point, access to Huff N Puff Road may be closed.
The road runs parallel to I-40 and has a couple of restaurants, motels, a church and other businesses on it.
One of the businesses is Tim Hogan’s Carpet and Floors, which has been in Lakeland since the 1980’s.
Owner Bruce Barney said he’s glad construction is under way and believes it’s the best thing for the community.
Barney said he’s not worried about a negative impact on his business.
“Nothing ever goes perfect. But we’ll work through it and we’re going to be here and we’re going to do well just like we always have. Tim Hogan’s has been here since 1984 and Tim Hogan’s is not going anywhere,” said Barney.
There’s another major project you should be prepared for, but this one is in the opposite direction.
Starting Wednesday and lasting through the summer, crews will start putting seismic joints in the Interstate 40 bridge over the Mississippi River, also known as the Hernando De Soto Bridge.
That means the two westbound lanes will shift to the center of the bridge and the eastbound outside lane will be closed.
Wide loads will be prohibited on the bridge until the work is completed.